The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cinnamon Rolls

marklwitt's picture

Cinnamon Rolls

I wanted to share this recipe with you.  It is the result of months of research and is the subject of my latest DVD release Cinnamon Rolls at Home.  The recipe and procedure are described in summary below but the full recipe and details of how the recipe came about can be obtained from    This recipe is unusual in that it uses a preferment (poolish).  You can see a picture in the gallary.

Basic Small Batch Poolish (makes about 750 grams)  

Mix together in a 2 quart bowl to heavy pancake batter consistency: 

   2 ½ cups (350 grams) bread flour 

   pinch of yeast (1/8 tsp or a little less) 

   14 ounces of good tasting water (400 ml) 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight (8-12 hours).

in 8-12 hours it will be double in bulk, bubbly and will resemble tapioca pudding.

Move the poolish to the refrigerator to store it there for up to three days. 

Cinnamon Roll Finish Mix 

Cream together with the whisk attachment in a standing mixer: 

   1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter 

   ½ cup (115 grams) granulated sugar 

   2 ½ tsp (18 grams) salt 

   1 large egg (60 grams) 

   ½ cup Instant dry milk (40 grams) 

   Zest of one medium or large orange 

Add and combine using the flat beater attachment: 

   3 1/4 Cups (480 grams) bread flour 

   1 tsp (3 grams) instant yeast 

Mix until the contents of the bowl resembles coarse cornmeal 

Cinnamon Nut Filling 

In a small food chopper place (in this order so cinnamon won’t dust up): 

   1 ½ tbs (15 grams) good quality cinnamon 

   3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams) 

Pulse the chopper and dribble in: 

   2 tbs canola or corn oil   

Remove the sugar and cinnamon mixture to a 2 quart mixing bowl. 

Place 2 cups (190-200 grams) whole pecans into mini-chopper and coarsely chop them. 

Stir together with cinnamon and sugar mixture along with a pinch of salt 

Procedure Summary 

Finish mixture (middle section) can be bagged and stored for later use in the freezer for three months or in the refrigerator for two weeks.    

Always allow  the finish mix to warm and become soft and pliable before adding to a small batch (top section) room temperature poolish in the standing mixer bowl.   

Mix on low mixer speed for one minute with flat beater. 

Switch to dough hook. 

Knead for three minutes. 

Rest for 10-15 minutes to autolyse (hydrate the dough). 

Knead additional 4-6 minutes.   

Remove dough hook. Leaving dough in mixer bowl spray with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. 

In about 20 minutes dough will be rested, tacky, pliable and ready to roll with rolling pin on heavily flour dusted surface.   

Roll dough to a size of about 14” x 34” for 16 rolls or about 14” x 26” for a dozen large rolls.   

Spread cinnamon Cinnamon Nut Filling (last section) on the rectangle of dough.    

Roll up like a jelly roll and slice into two inch segments, cutting all the way through the dough.   

Place cut rolls on baking sheet lined with parchment about 1 ½ inches apart.    

Proof until rolls are touching. This will take about 90 minutes. 

About 30 minutes after proofing begins turn on your oven to 425 degress F.   

Remove the plastic wrap and discard.  

Place rolls in the 425 degree F oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. 

Rotate the pan once 180 degrees if you notice uneven browning at about 12 minutes.

Overall bake time is about 25 minutes - but ovens vary a lot.

Above is a procedure summary, for more information refer to

marklwitt's picture

Check out my Breadmaking videos at

These really are quite tasty.  I take them to work often and get good reviews - as well as complaints from the dieters.  Using poolish for something like cinnamon rolls is counter-intuitive. Because I always keep poolish in my refrigerator and have developed several recipes for using it.  The slow fermentation (24-48 hours) adds a nutiness and subtle flavor enhancements you can't get any other way.  There is also a bagel recipe at the website for use with poolish that works well.

I enjoy developing these recipes and hope you enjoy using them. 

Cooky's picture

I'm definitely going to have to give this a try. This sounds a lot like a famous local pastry made by a particular bakery, which I recently learned takes two days to make. It's got to be the poolish/long-slow-rise method that makes the difference.



"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

leemid's picture

Just wondering why you don't use butter instead of oil? Seems that would taste better? And while I'm asking, why use unsalted butter and add salt? I've never understood that scenario.


Squid's picture

Lee, I can't speak for the part about the oil, but in regards to salted vs. unsalted butter, I've been taught in cooking classes to never use salted butter, first, b/c unsalted butter is fresher (it doesn't use salt as a preservative) and second, b/c you can control the salt better since the amount of salt added to butter isn't standard across manufacturers. You control the saltiness by adding your own salt.

That's what I've been taught, anyway. It'll be interesting to hear what others say.

Cooky's picture

I have heard and/or read a couple of chefs saying that the main reason to prefer unsalted butter is for the fresher flavor. One even claimed that the amount of salt used as preservative in salted butter is so small you couldn't really taste it once it's in a recipe.  

 So I'm with you, Squid. I'd love to hear from someone with more expertise and/or experience on this point.


"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

marklwitt's picture

Check out my Breadmaking videos at 

I didn't post my response in the right spot, sorry. The reason I use oil is simple. I blend the sugar and cinnamon in a mini-chopper and dribble it in a little at a time.  The purpose is to make the cinnamon and sugar smooth, not for the flavor.  Butter would probably work as well, but there are eight tablespoons in the dough already. 

The unsalted butter is just what I always use to bake with.  On those occasions where salted butter is all that is around, I subtract out about 1/4 reducing it to 2 1/4 tsp and it works just fine.

To enrich these a bit more I sometimes spread soften butter on the (about half a stick) on the rectangle of dough before spreading the cinnamon nut filling.  I also have made them with double filling.  This variation is awsome, expensive and a real dent in the diet. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I switched to unsalted butter twenty some years ago and haven't bought salted butter since.  It is much smoother tasting.  If your store doesn't sell it, ask for it.  In the beginning I didn't notice the difference, but with time my taste buds have become finer.  I like the butter flavor but if I add more butter to a recipe and it's salty, then the outcome will be too salty instead of buttery.  It has also led to salt reduction as a whole in my household which I find good.  My husband and son also cook and tend to go for spices and herbs to round out flavors than to add salt.  Here, the standard is unsalted, and I would be hard pressed to find salted butter.  I don't have to think too much or look when I buy butter.

It has happened that I accidently bought some when I was traveling, and then I could only use it for popcorn or breakfast eggs.  Took forever to use up whereas unsalted is unlimited in its uses for eating and cooking, with savory or sweet.    Mini Oven

leemid's picture

First, let me appologize for always thinking of you as Mini Driver...

I buy your answer. You have layed out the first believable and comprehensive answer to this question, for me. I don't think I could tastes the difference in recipes between the two butters, unless and until I had refined my palate. I understand completely the idea of discovering down-the-road that there really is a difference in using unsalted all the time. Of course I can taste the difference between the two, but as I have said before, if you have the same amount of salt in both recipes, whether added separately or in the butter, what difference does it make?

As to the unsalted butter being fresher, if salt is a preservative, wouldn't the salted butter be fresher, having been better preserved? I can't automatically believe that unsalted butter is taken off the shelf at a shorter period of time than salted, either by the public or the store employees, so where is the expectation that it is fresher?

KipperCat's picture

Theoretically, with the unsalted butter, you would be able to detect any lack of freshness before cooking with the butter. Though I have a friend who uses only unsalted butter, and I've noticed it tasting old sometimes. So if your palate isn't real great, or you don't use a lot of butter, then buying the unsalted might create a worse result.

I almost never buy unsalted butter because we prefer the salted kind for table use. I don't often butter bread or other food at the table, but when I use the unsalted it just doesn't taste right to me. Hmmn, now that I started baking all this bread, we're going through the butter pretty quickly!

marklwitt's picture

see above response

Squid's picture

As to the unsalted butter being fresher, if salt is a preservative, wouldn't the salted butter be fresher, having been better preserved? I can't automatically believe that unsalted butter is taken off the shelf at a shorter period of time than salted, either by the public or the store employees, so where is the expectation that it is fresher?

Well, my understanding is that the fresher cream goes to unsalted butter because salt is used to cover up any "off" flavors.

I dunno. I only know what I'm told.